TELUS Realizes Direct Cost Savings and Churn Reduction

TELUS is Canada’s largest healthcare and IT provider. They are also the fastest growing national telecom. However, in 2016, TELUS’ CX program was fragmented. They set to work and less than 18 months later, they turned their CX program around and saved $1 million year-over-year which resulted in a 100 percent volume increase in feedback and 45 percent SMS response rate across 3,000 VoC users. By focusing their efforts on reaching more customers with proactive recovery, they have seen a $5 million-dollar opportunity in churn reduction.Their concentration on the user experience and a comprehensive customer follow-up strategy benefited their bottom line. In a recent webinar, Stavros Davidovic, CX Manager at TELUS, shared the details of their program and the numbers behind their CX efforts.

You Need the Right Team

In order to achieve the type of growth experienced by TELUS, having the right team is critical. This needs to be a dedicated internal CX team. Team members need to be empowered to remove barriers, improve timelines, and develop themselves and others as subject matter experts.

Furthermore, as a part of the internal CX team, there needs to be a passionate executive sponsor that challenges the CX team daily. Those that support the CX team in the organization also need to have fair access to resources. Cross-functional alignment is key. Having the right team is not enough, if a customer centric mindset is not ingrained in the organization.

Establish a Customer-Centric Identity

Having a customer-centric identity at an organization means that customer experience is considered at every interaction. At TELUS, the goal is to not only collect feedback and act on feedback, but to do it at every step of the customer journey. This allows for an always up to date pulse on how the customers are feeling, which enables to TELUS to act accordingly. Part of having a customer-centric identity is having a hub for all things feedback related. This allowed for TELUS to be more transparent internally, as well as provide a place for reference material and support. One important part of keeping a customer-centric mindset is to ask the right questions.

Ask the Right Questions

Customers may not give out the detailed feedback you are looking to find. That is why it is critical to ask the right questions. Not just asking the right questions but asking them at the proper key points in order to maximize the impact of feedback. By asking the right questions at key points, you’ll be able to keep your brand consistent, invitations timely and personalized, emphasize the value of feedback to the customer, and properly act on the feedback.

“Customers aren’t interacting with you because they want to, but because they have to. You have to be mindful of that.”

From Fragmented to First-Class

In just 18 short months, TELUS saw a $1 million dollar increase in annual savings, 100 percent increase in volume of feedback, an increased SMS response rate, and a churn reduction of $5 million by reaching 15% more customers. These results were due to establishing the right team that was cross-functional with an executive sponsor, establishing a customer-centric identify that put the customer first in every situation, and asking the right questions at the right point in the customer journey. These things allowed TELUS to slingshot their fragmented CX program to being world-class. For more information and If you’d like to watch the full webinar, you can do so here.

How to Tackle the #1 Problem Product Teams Face: Customer Feedback

What’s your biggest problem as a Product Dev professional? Too many demands and not enough time? Limited resources? Oddly enough, none of those topped the list for Hiten Shah’s crowd.

Hiten Shah (of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout fame) recently wrote in his newsletter that “the problems people have on Product teams fall into two main categories: Customer Feedback and Alignment.” This conclusion came after Hiten asked his readers to share their biggest product problems, and in more than 100 replies, those two themes emerged as the leaders.

Wootric helps customers gather, organize, categorize and analyze customer feedback – at volume – every day. And we’ve got a few insights into how Product teams can solve the issues that come with customer-centricity – while improving alignment at the same time.

Let’s go through the problems real Product professionals sent Hiten Shah point by point.

“Fast/Effective ways to quickly recap and synthesize qualitative research”

Qualitative data – ie. freeform responses versus ratings or multiple choice answers – are notoriously difficult to sift through and analyze. It’s only recently that, with advanced technology and machine learning, it’s become much easier to tag, sort, and assign sentiment to qualitative feedback at scale.

CXInsight™ Dashboard tagging segmentation screenshot
Source: CXInsight™ Dashboard

Tagging, in particular, is a huge time-saver when you switch from just manual tagging to auto-tagging. Tagging comments with their major themes is the first step towards conducting frequency analysis to identify trending topics – or find relevant feedback with a click.

Using an NPS survey with an open-ended comments section, for example, you might find that your ‘detractors’ (low scorers) comments tend to be tagged with “slow loading time” or you may see a specific feature request recurring.

Yep, modern customer feedback software should be able to deliver every comment with a feature request, for example, tagged and prioritized by frequency, from the highest-value customers, in about a second.

You can even use tags to route specifically tagged feedback straight to the appropriate department for follow-up. No need to hunt for bugs – the bugs will come to you! (Don’t they always?)

“It’s [customer feedback] very subjective and sometimes doesn’t have context, therefore I take it with a grain of salt, but engineers may not see it that way and want to address the feedback immediately.”

When your customer feedback comes primarily through surveys that *don’t* include open-ended responses (to gather all of that golden qualitative data), it’s impossible to get the context you need to evaluate the issue and possibly solve it.

But understanding the why behind NPS, CES and CSAT scores (to name a few) isn’t all the context you need to decide where to allot your time and resources.

You literally have to consider the source.

Is the feedback coming from a high-value, ideal client? Is your existing survey solution capable of identifying those markers?

Did you know that it’s even possible to target specific customer segments with survey campaigns?

And for even more context – you can target customer surveys based on product milestones. For example, you can set a CES survey to deploy after new feature use to find out how easy (or difficult) new customers think it is to use.

“Feedback overwhelm – how to prioritize what users want/need the most.”

An overwhelming number of customer comments can leave you feeling like you are trying to drink from a fire hydrant. It’s time to talk about the wonders of machine learning.

Historically, extracting insights from piles of unstructured feedback has been difficult, expensive and time-consuming. That is not the case today. When you need insight from feedback at scale, it is time to invest in text and sentiment analysis using software with natural language processing.

Machine learning has come a loooong way. Yes, algorithms must be trained to understand your company and customers, so chose a software vendor that will keep their team in the loop and ensure you’re getting good insights right off the bat. Then the software just gets better and better at telling you what is most important to your customers.

Feedback categorized by theme with sentiment breakdown
Source: Wootric CXInsight™ Dashboard

Wootric CXInsight™ combines natural language processing with sentiment analysis to categorize feedback based on what matters most for your customers. When you know why your customers love you — or don’t — prioritization becomes a much easier task.

“Having a regular cadence of customer interaction to develop insights and product intuition.”

Okay, there’s no excuse – this is so easily doable. You can set any CX survey you want to deploy on a regular basis, or, deploy after customers complete specific milestones. Having to go get customer feedback shouldn’t be something you have to think about. It should be automatic! Part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.

But, it’s only that easy if you’ve got software that makes it that easy – let’s be honest here. Modern customer feedback software can integrate with Slack, Intercom, or whatever you use, as well as deliver surveys to customers while they’re in your app, and deliver it to you tagged, sorted, and prioritized.

Regularly!

You can have your finger on the pulse of customer satisfaction and will know immediately if there’s any fluctuation. As an added bonus, give a pat on the back to whoever built an update or solution for customers so they can see the results in action!

“My main problem is to get to know our audience and talk directly to them.”

Surveys are great – we love them. But you know what? Even with a qualitative feedback field, a survey can’t take the place of a real, person-to-person conversation. And usually, the biggest barrier to having those conversations is making the time.

We can’t pick up the phone for you, but we can save you time. Enough time to schedule interviews with your customers and get even deeper insights that they may never tell you in writing.

“In Product we’re expected to be customer-centric. We’re supposed to get feedback and talk to customers all the time. It’s literally our day job. But that’s on top of making sure we’re focused on building the right things and helping our teams ship too.”

Here’s the thing, Product friends. You aren’t the only department that has to be “customer-centric” and talk to customers all the time and review steady streams of feedback. So to make this part of your job easier, you might have to reach out to other departments and make customer-centricity a multi-team effort.

If you have a Customer Success department, start there – you might find that the Customer Success Manager is your new BFF. They’re also talking to customers every day, and in many ways, they’re closer to the problems customers face than you are. Most CSMs would be delighted to build better relationships with their Product Dev departments, working together to answer the question “What can we do to help our customers achieve success?”

“It’s not easy and it isn’t getting easier. Customer feedback can come from anywhere: Customer support requests, live chats, social media, the sales team, customer reviews, competitor research, and more. Adding to the pile are the endless opinions about what to do with the feedback from people on our teams.”

It’s not easy – true. But it is getting easier to solve qualitative feedback issues with modern customer feedback software!

Sorry, we can’t help with the ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ problem – that’s right up there with finding the cure for the common cold. We find that if you have to pick one source to guide product, NPS feedback is the going to be the most actionable.  That said, when it comes to gathering customer feedback from many sources into one, easily searchable place, modern technology comes to the rescue again.

What you want to look for is a customer feedback program that can pull all of customer comment sources together, like NPS or CSAT feedback, user interviews, support tickets, app store reviews, social and analyze those comments in a way that lets you see the big picture and slice & dice by theme, sentiment, survey date, and data source.

Tackle your unstructured, qualitative feedback with InMoment CXInsight™.

The Dealership (Service) Call Center…Not Ready For Prime Time!

The sale of a product marks the beginning of a business relationship – a relationship that only becomes truly profitable through the service relationship that follows. Ideally, that relationship would last throughout the product and customer lifecycle. Dealer vehicle services, therefore, are not just something that you are obliged to offer customers after you sell them something: It is an essential part of a profitable, long term business model. Predictive maintenance (PdM) – as opposed to routine ex-post or preventive maintenance – offers companies the chance to fundamentally transform their service and business model. For that to happen, they must start seeing PdM not just as a means of collecting data, but as a vital tool for creating additional value in an active partnership with their customers. PdM combines the topics of service and digitization and opens significant new value pockets. But to turn this immense theoretical opportunity into solid reality, dealer service is obliged also to meet certain conditions. Above all, they need to understand that PdM, as a form of “Services 4.0,” is far more than just a question of routine oil change reminders.

Dealer service centers…at the center of the customer loyalty loop

There’s little question that, for the near future, all eyes will be on dealership service departments as the primary source of dealership profit. It’s about time! Service centers have been the primary profit producers for decades. But consistent service customer retention is the unit responsible for bringing those sold customers back for the next showroom sale. Thus the old saying that “sales sells the initial vehicle once, service sells the “all the rest” has never been truer.

The Evolution of the dealer Business Development Center (BDC)

In its day, the launch of the dealership Business Development Center marked a monumental change in the traditional retail auto sales model. Up until then, use of the telephone was left to the discretion of sales agents, who were trained and managed primarily to focus on face to face sales and the “now” transaction. The BDC marked the first formalized effort to improve on the phone skills that sales agents lacked. To be blunt…most dealer sales people are still ineffective on the phone.

When the BDC strategy spread coverage to the service center, that same focus on re-actively answering the phone, in the past was the norm. For far too many service center BDCs, that mindset is still in place today. Retail sales and service leadership speak positively about the importance of retention, but most of their efforts are still stuck in making the appointment for the “now” transaction. While autonomous vehicles and mobility seem to be the hot topic today, those realities are still years, if not decades away from the immediate needs of the day to day retail auto world.

“We are in the midst of seeing more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years.” Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

The connected car and predictive maintenance are the “next big thing”

Autonomous vehicles and mobility are still years off from attaining meaningful scale. Far less coverage is being dedicated to the “connected car”…with the promise of replacing mileage-based maintenance recommendations with predictive certainties. Vehicle telematics have the ability today to alert the owner of a potential breakdown ahead of the occurrence. I spoke to this opportunity in this Cafe post earlier this year. And I followed it up by this post signaling that today’s service center was not near ready to deliver those predictive alert.

So the technology part of predictive data delivery is available, but the delivery of those services at the dealer end is far from being in place. Dealer service BDCs are not equipped, both in the BDC agents’ capabilities and front line culture to deliver the interface to the end user customer.

Service BDC agents, like service center front lines, are still stuck in a reactive, “after” the breakdown culture

It’s hard to change the culture of any department in a dealership! But consider this: if service BDC agents are challenged simply to convince customers to make appointments for preventative, routine maintenance…won’t they be even more challenged to persuade customers to schedule service before a breakdown occurs? There’s a great deal of difference between scheduling inbound appointment calls and that of an outbound call attempting to convince a vehicle owner to schedule a service that will specifically prevent an impending malfunction before a breakdown occurs. Customers are inherently suspicious of dealer service preventative mileage recommendations…convincing them of predictive maintenance will be a new challenge altogether.

A new script and higher skill set for BDC agents

While service customers are familiar with mileage-based oil changes, they don’t always act in a timely manner to take action and bring the vehicle to the service center. Presently, BDC agents use repetitive calling to nudge customers to act. In other words, they focus more on reminder calls and less on persuasion skills to motivate the customer to act now.  But relying on a repetitive call model won’t be effective for the future of “predictive maintenance.” Service centers will have to either train or recruit to a higher agent skill level in the future. Repetitive “reminder calls” won’t convince customers to act on a maintenance service they don’t understand. Agents must be believably persuasive to a level not practiced today.

And scripting will undergo dramatic changes as well. Repetitive “friendly reminder” calls will not be effective for owners who cannot visualize the benefit of a service that will specifically eliminate breakdowns before they occur.  That call messaging will center on the agent’s ability to connecting with the “feelings” of the vehicle owner.

Service BDCs evolve from “cost/expense” to the “revenue/profit”

Most dealers are still using an antiquated P & L strategy, where sales receive all of the credit (and marketing budget) for the first sale, but for repeat sales as well.  However, a high percentage of those repeat sales are the result of the positive customer experience delivered by the service center.  Past customers usually don’t return for the next vehicle purchase if their service experience was unacceptable.

As customer experience manager for a large GM dealer, I was included in the weekly marketing meeting where tens of thousands of dollars were spent every month for attaining new customers.  However, in all of those meetings, I never heard one mention of allocating any of those ad dollars to the service department for “retaining” repeat vehicle purchases.

Hopefully, the successes achieved with predictive maintenance will clarify even more that sales sells the first vehicle…and the positive experience delivered by the service center sells the rest.

 

Retail Auto: Client Loyalty is not Dead, But Client Follow-Up is!

You’ll never see a dealership Google image that isn’t like the one above—a smiling couple, seemingly happy with their experience of buying a vehicle. But are car buyers really that happy with the sales experience they receive, or happy to have it behind them?

Are they still smiling with the dealership experience after the initial sell? Did the sales staff properly introduce them to the next phase of their dealership customer journey, the service center? Was their “service experience” with free maintenance and warranty work after, well delivered? Did the follow-up experience after the sale consist of the typical, but dated, dealership follow up email of “congratulations” and maybe even a birthday card before they were receiving “pitches” for their next vehicle purchase?

Ask most any dealer principal or general manager and they’ll tell you that customer retention is front and center on their list of priorities. But with many dealers, when you measure the dollars formally allocated towards customer retention, those numbers are usually nowhere to be found.

Where are the Customer Experience Dollars?

As Customer Experience Manager for a large automotive dealer, I was fortunate enough to be invited to weekly advertising meetings between our leadership and ad agency. The purpose was to discuss what worked, what didn’t work and what was ahead.

But never, in all those weekly meetings, over almost three years of attending, did I ever witness one discussion about retaining past customers. There was time spent discussing community events, but no time spent on a formalized strategy for retention.

What was discussed? Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Pandora, Instagram, television, radio, on-site remotes, and even newspaper to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars spent each month on “getting them” and not one formal dollar designated for “keeping them”.

It is assumed in far too many dealerships that a respectable majority of past buyers will return because of the warranty or the free first maintenance offered by the manufacture. But after that, at roughly three years for leases and five to seven years for vehicle purchases, research reveals they begin to go elsewhere for service, mainly to an independent repair shop or franchise.

The Typical Dealership Sales Model

Typical dealership purchase funnel

The sales funnel has been used in retail auto for decades, but where is the “retention” part of the model? Many dealers would answer that they have their have their own rewards program for retention, but is it a rewards program that provides surprise and delight on a continual basis? Or like most dealer rewards programs that only apply discounts on products and services? What’s surprising and delightful about that?! Will that be enough reason for the client to return if the previous sales or service was poor?

Candidly, most dealer “experiences” are transactional. And when the showroom sale is completed, and the vehicle is delivered to the customer, most of the focus is on the next prospect (new prospect generated by ad dollars). Dealership retention efforts are mainly focused on the experience of buying and servicing the car, but will that top-of-mind awareness remain in the vehicle owner’s mind three years later when the lease is up? Will it trigger an initial contact with that car buyer to return to that same store five to seven years later when the vehicle owner starts a new car search?

The Loyalty Loop: an inclusive model for sales and retention

The Loyalty Loop

Photo Credit:McKinsey

Where is “the funnel” for client retention? Where is a formalized model for dealer retention of past customers? The Loyalty Loop was developed by Mckinsey and Company, a top consulting company used by many of the country’s top companies. But look how it focuses on a loyalty loop inside the traditional sales model. That inside loop consists of what the customer experiences with the dealer between car purchases.

While rewards programs are better than nothing, those rewards are not what I would call surprise and delight. They also offer discounts that involve coming to the dealership. Even though we know that vehicle owners are usually not surprised and delighted to return to the dealer for most anything.

Here’s an example of surprise and delight. Some dealers give FREE car washes as a retention tool.  All the owner needs to do is come to the service lane to redeem it. But most customers don’t want to come to the dealer for anything. How about this, give them a free “mobile” car wash.  Now that’s surprise and delight!

The Ownership Retention Gap

Consider these NADA statistics with respect to the retention of previously sold customers:

  • Dealers spent an average of $7.00 on retaining their already sold customers (2017)
  • Luxury dealers spent an average of $762.00 on each vehicle sold, non-luxury spent $670.00 (2017)
  • Average gross on referral vehicle sales was $1,200.00 vs $817.00 for fresh “ups”
  • Referrals have a 51% service usage vs 29% for fresh ups
  • Referrals have a 96% CSI score vs 73% for fresh ups

What’s is wrong with this picture? Far too many dealerships are ignoring their past customers who would be more loyal, produce more gross per vehicle, send referrals, deliver higher CSI scores and use their dealer service center more often than “newsuspects” who consume most all of the monthly ad budget for dealers.

We’ll expand on this topic in our next post.

How to Learn from Bad Net Promoter Scores

This guest post was written by Martin Ceisel, the lead Content Strategist at MindTouch. His hobbies include writing, writing, and writing some more. MindTouch is a self-service platform that helps companies improve support agent productivity, increase ticket deflection, and fuel self-service support.

A quick look at some Net Promoter Score benchmarks will quickly reveal a painful truth: bad NPS scores happen. It’s inevitable.NPS Calculation

The worst response to your company’s detractors, though, is no response at all. So, how to best learn from bad Net Promoter Scores and use them to improve the customer experience?

Here are a few strategies to consider:

Do your research

Look at all of the support tickets your detractor customer has put in and read all the notes that your agents have written about these interactions. Review the goals they had when they initially became a customer. Check which help articles they may have read. This will give you important context when you close the loop with the customer.

Respond promptly and personally

Though the customers behind bad Net Promoter Scores might still be feeling the sting of their negative experience, receiving a prompt response to their NPS survey might help turn the tide. If nothing else, a personal response is an opportunity to take the NPS survey beyond a transactional call and response to an ongoing (and honest!) conversation. You’ll be surprised how much constructive feedback a simple “What can we do to improve your experience?” might unlock.

Segment response types

What customer group or business segment is driving the bulk of your bad Net Promoter Scores? One way to find out is to segment NPS scores to identify hotspots. You might find that a particular point in the customer journey, such as onboarding or renewal, is creating an inordinate number of detractors. Or maybe your NPS from product A is higher or lower than product B. Ask yourself why one group of customers is more successful than others. By categorizing responses, you can drill down and identify actionable takeaways. One way to see themes is to create reason codes, a method of categorizing responses so they can be organized and analyzed.

Don’t get tunnel vision

Remember that NPS is just one measure of customer sentiment. Don’t forget key metrics like customer effort (CES) and customer satisfaction score (CSAT). These, too, are important metrics that can lead you to the root cause of negative customer experiences. Regarding NPS specifically, consider trends in your industry. What are the NPS benchmarks you should be aiming for? This will help you decide how urgent an action to take—which bad Net Promoter Scores to prioritize first.

Because it’s about the whole customer experience

Tunnel vision makes for a good segue to my close: remember the reason we pay such close attention to customer sentiment. Perusing, parsing, and responding to bad Net Promoter Scores is about more than improving your company’s own internal metrics. It’s about improving the customer experience. If we can’t deliver low-effort customer experiences throughout the customer journey—if we don’t demonstrate a commitment to reading and responding to what our customers are telling us—we risk losing those customers entirely.

Make follow up on Net Promoter Score feedback convenient with InMoment’s many integrations.

The Power of a Smile

You often hear of the positive power of a smile.  A recent business trip brought this to light to me, as well as the negative power that is portrayed when it is missing.  My colleague and I were on our way to see a client and we decided to stop and get a coffee. The first coffee shop we came upon is a nationally well-known one, and especially here in New England—and even especially more in Quincy, MA.  It was a long drive and we still had a way to go.  We were really looking forward to a nice coffee and having optimistic discussions about our upcoming meeting.

As we approached the counter, we were ignored for about minute while several employees chatted a bit amongst themselves.  Of course, one minute can feel like ten when you are standing there awkwardly waiting for someone to acknowledge your presence.  However, we patiently waited until the representative made eye contact with us.  With no smile or greeting whatsoever, and with a clearly visible “I hate my job” look and tone, she said to us “What would you like?” We ordered, and once we got back to the car with our coffees, both looked at each other and at the very same time said “Wow!”.  We could not believe the lack of customer service and left there feeling like we were a bother and not wanted.  Why would we ever go back there?  The answer is we wouldn’t, and we won’t.  While the coffee was decent, the service certainly wasn’t.

As we reached our destination, we again stopped for another coffee, this time at another equally and nationally well-known coffee shop.  That experience was the complete opposite.  We were greeted with a smile, asked how our day was going, and how they could help us.  We felt acknowledged, invited, appreciated, and left feeling quite pleased and positive.

This experience reminded me of a great article I read a few years back called, “4 Reasons Why Excellent Customer Service Should Start with a Smile,” by Kaan Turnali in Digitalist Magazine. In the article, Kann explains that what’s often missing is a smile, a key element of customer service and business interactions.

Here are four reasons why excellent customer service should start with a smile:

A Smile is More Than an Expression

Smiling isn’t just something your face does. It communicates your state of mind. A smile—or the nonvisual sense of a smile for telephone customer service representatives—can be the most significant part of a business transaction. In retail, it can influence people’s perception of a brand and their customer satisfaction.

It can enhance the exchange of a product, the sharing of knowledge, or the offer of a solution As Internet and mobile commerce take market share from traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, smiling as a state of mind is more important than ever.

A Smile is More About a Mindset

Smiling is as much a reflection of an organization as it is a validation of that organization’s promise. It helps form the customer’s first impression, an indication of a pledge to offer a satisfactory product or service. It plays a role in everything we do, in every transaction we touch, in our relationship with every customer we help. It starts before we first interact with our customers, and it certainly does not end when the transaction is complete.

A Smile is an Attitude

Smiling tells our story beyond first impressions. It is a personal touch that extends our customer service promise and reflects our passion. Smiling says that we want to be here serving our clients and customers. It says that we are ready and willing to go the extra mile. And we smile even when we are not face-to-face with clients or customers. Our tone of voice on the phone and style of our correspondence communicate a virtual smile—or the lack thereof.

We cannot control everything that unfolds during customer interactions, but we always control the attitude we convey, such as amiability, energy and excitement, as well as commitment to satisfying the customer’s wants or needs. Even though a smile can’t solve every problem, in many cases, our attitude can triumph over many complications that can occur during the transaction and our smile can become a competitive edge.

Most Important: A Smile is an Invitation

Smiling sets a tone. It establishes a rapport and initiates trust, the cornerstone of every business relationship. This last point is more relevant than ever as we struggle to retain that integral factor in our fast-paced, smartphone-addicted, multitask-driven culture. Technological advances, globalization and new business models have us spending more time working remotely on our devices, which also makes us more remote.

Bottom line: Whether the transaction is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), a smile is one of the easiest components to get right. Omitting smiles from the equation leaves out the crucial ingredient in any business interaction.

So, as we learned from the experiences I shared above, it takes more than a good cup of coffee to keep customers coming back.  Good service is just as important as a good product, and it all should begin with a smile.

 

Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Joe Camirand along with HorizonCX, LLC aims to improve operational and financial results for small and medium-sized businesses through Voice of the Customer (VoC) strategies.  Learn more at www.horizoncx.com

Using Industry Benchmarks to Set a Good Net Promoter Score (NPS) Goal

“What grade did you get?”

Do you remember getting asked that question in grade school? Or maybe you were the one asking it? Humans like to know how they’re doing compared to everyone else.

This carries over into customer experience as well. At Wootric, we advise companies on setting up an effective Net Promoter Score (NPS) program. We get asked questions about industry benchmarks all the time.

In general, we believe focusing on an external benchmark is not incredibly helpful.

The Net Promoter System is the quantification of customer loyalty and the process for improving it over time. The power of this system lies in the analysis of feedback and the action taken based on that analysis.

However, benchmarks are still useful in certain cases, which is what this article is all about.

If you’re unfamiliar with NPS, here’s a quick rundown:

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer loyalty metric between -100 and 100 that captures the propensity of a company’s customers to attract and refer new business or/and repeat business.

NPS also stands for the Net Promoter System®, which was built around the Net Promoter Score. It is a model that ties a corporation’s bottom line to customer happiness and loyalty.

Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn how to modernize your NPS program for growth and higher loyalty.

In the NPS survey, customers rate their likelihood to recommend your company on a scale of 0-10. To get your Net Promoter Score, take the percentage of people who are happy and willing to recommend your product or service (those who respond with a 9 or 10) — “promoters”– and subtract the percentage of people who would not be willing to recommend your product or service — (score of 0-6) “detractors.”

NPS Calculation

For example, a +50 NPS means that the company has more than 50% promoters and less than 50% detractors, so generally an NPS score of +50 is, indeed, great! You may see scales out there that say +30 is a decent score, and that +80 or greater is the ultimate dream score.

While an absolute goal is nice and simple, if you are going to benchmark, it can be helpful to take a look at what others in your industry have been able to achieve.  

NPS industry benchmarks

Industry benchmarks give you a way to evaluate your NPS relative to your competitors. They help control for factors that often create major differences in what is considered a good NPS score.

Oftentimes, other companies in your industry have established an average NPS for you to use as a benchmark. If you make smartphones or other tech hardware, for example, companies like Apple have been tracking NPS for years.

To get averages and examples from your industry, try reports from the Fortune 500.

NPS variance between industries

Let’s take a look at some examples of benchmarking NPS according to your industry.

Let’s say you have an NPS of +50. As we explained, that’s already pretty good! But if you’re a department store or specialty store, you are actually below the average (+62) for the industry.

Walmart pharmacies have an NPS score of +32. Considering the highest score is +100, you’d guess that they’d be lukewarm with this score, but I’m sure that the folks in charge of customer experience there are actually ecstatic. Walmart pharmacies have one of the highest NPS scores within the drug store & pharmacy industry.

Compare this number to the software industry, where +34 is the average. Becoming a leader in the software industry would mean having an NPS in the +60 range, like Salesforce (+66) and Adobe (+62).

If I tell you that the industry average NPS for laptop computer manufacturers is +43, can you guess what Apple’s NPS is? Consider their brand reputation and customer loyalty…

In 2018, Apple’s laptop product team reported an NPS of +63. You probably got pretty close, since you knew the industry average! This is why relative score comparison by industry is more useful than evaluation based on an absolute scale.

Caveats for using NPS industry benchmarks

Unfortunately, benchmarks for NPS programs aren’t always as helpful as you’d hope. This comes down to the nature of surveying for feedback. There are so many contributing factors to an NPS score, such as:

  • What channel you survey customers through
  • Demographics and habits of your customer base
  • When and how often you ask
  • Whether you have enough data to be statistically significant or not

All of these factors can have varying effects on your overall NPS score. For example, your competitor may ask the NPS question within the context of a longer annual brand survey, while you survey using just the NPS question after a transaction. These will have different consequences for the feedback you gather. If you don’t have enough feedback coming in, your NPS may vary significantly from quarter to quarter or month to month.

Bear in mind, a ‘good NPS score’ doesn’t just depend on your industry, since it’s not difficult to game the system. It’s not always fair to compare your NPS score to another company’s NPS score because you don’t know their survey methods, or their employee compensation plans.

When competitive individuals are incentivized based on NPS score, things can get ugly.

A motivated person or company could improve their numbers by letting their customers know that positive feedback would mean a lot to them or by only showing the survey to customers who are positively inclined. They might offer incentives to customers to complete the survey. Clearly, the feedback received from these methods will lead to an inflated NPS score that is not a useful comparison for those using a more objective survey process.  

Setting an NPS goal if you don’t have a benchmark

If no benchmark exists for your industry, benchmark against yourself.

The great thing about NPS is that it is an actionable metric. It’s a number that you can rally the company around as a north star to guide improvement efforts.

“A good NPS score is one that is better than the last.”
– Jessica Pfeifer, CCO & Co-founder of Wootric

Remember, NPS isn’t just a score. It’s a system that’s meant to drive business improvement in product and customer experience. It helps you identify and close the loop with unhappy customers and solve their specific problems in real time.

Your goal is to boost customer loyalty and retention, and that happens by reading verbatim comments to understand the why behind the scores you receive. By making changes based on customer feedback, and responding quickly to detractors, you will naturally see your NPS improve. And gains in NPS correlate with revenue growth.

How to report NPS

After all this, you will want to report numbers to the rest of the team on a regular basis. NPS should be shared along with other monthly or quarterly metrics like revenue, new customers and customer churn.

We understand that, so here’s what we recommend:

  • Instead of fixating on your score in the absolute sense, we recommend focusing on improving your score over time. Understand NPS as a trend over several periods, like if you were looking at a stock’s price.Trends-NPS-with-SaaS-segmentation
  • Determine the business goals of your NPS program, then report NPS in relation to the goals. For instance, if you are trying to improve retention, report NPS alongside churn data.
  • Pay attention to trending topics in your verbatim responses. Reporting these topics will help everyone understand what’s important to your customers, and the pain points they experience. Share what customers love and what they don’t love about your company with internal stakeholders. Then you can work to make those points as frictionless as possible. 

Note: For startups, be sure to read and respond to every single comment. As you grow, you’ll start needing aggregate and to pull themes from customer comments. To automate that process, check out AI-powered text and sentiment analysis.

  • Segment your Net Promoter Score by relevant customer groups. For example, this could be by user role (in the SaaS example above), geography, or size/frequency of purchase–whatever drives your business. This will help you pay close attention to groups that are critical to your business success. Learn more about segmentation here.
  • If you want to compare your score to a competitor, choose a company in your industry that you admire and use their score as an aspirational goal. Many companies have volunteered their NPS scores to research and reports such as this one by the Fortune 500.

Measure NPS and work to improve it over time.  Dig into customer comments and close the loop with customers. You will learn their needs, and their pain points, and have plenty of guidance to make those improvements. Both your NPS and your customer retention rates are sure to improve. 

Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score feedback with InMoment.

Placement of Survey Questions

This is an article written by MaritzCX in which the nature of survey questions are examined and connections to business results are illustrated. 

The placement of certain key survey questions – particularly the overall satisfaction question in a customer satisfaction questionnaire – has been extensively debated among academics, suppliers, and clients.

The point of view of MaritzCX is outlined below, results from discussion in our Research Leadership Council sessions, our Marketing Sciences Department, a review of relevant academic literature, and a limited amount of side-by-side testing.

Importantly, no overwhelming body of evidence indicates whether the key metrics in a survey, particularly questions like the overall satisfaction question, should come first (before the attributes) or last (after the attributes). Some studies have shown that the overall-last design produces higher relationships (R-squared) between overall satisfaction and the attributes, presumably because the preceding attributes influence the overall satisfaction measure through context effects. In fact, some suppliers recommend this “overall last” design for just this reason.

MaritzCX has the opposite point of view: We recommend the overall-first design to achieve the least-biased, best estimate of the real level of satisfaction that exists among a company’s customers.

Here is the rationale:

  • The goal of marketing research is to interview a sample of people in order to understand the entire universe of those people; for example, interviewing a sample of customers to represent all of the company’s (un-surveyed) customers. The goal is not to change customers’ perceptions as a result of having participated in the survey.

 

  • In any survey design, context effects from prior questions are unavoidable. The best survey designs eliminate or at least minimize context effects on the most important variables in the study. In general, the most important questions appear earlier in the questionnaire, thus minimizing respondent fatigue and bias from prior questions.

 

  • In customer satisfaction research, overall satisfaction is usually the most important measure in the study, the one on which compensation and other performance awards are based. Therefore, it should be sheltered as much as possible from context effects in the design i.e., placed early in the questionnaire.

 

  • If the overall-last design produces a higher R-squared or “driver” relationship between the attributes and the overall rating, this typically means that the overall rating is being impacted or changed by the preceding attributes. (Otherwise, there would be no difference between the two designs). Therefore, modifying the attribute battery could single-handedly produce a change in the overall satisfaction rating. Obviously, this is extremely problematic for a tracking study, in which attributes commonly change between the benchmark and rollout waves, or from year to year as company operational priorities change. Asking the overall satisfaction question first will allow clients to change the attribute battery at any time without this worry.

 

  • In an overall-last design, if the satisfaction rating is changed by preceding attributes, it may not have the same linkage to downstream customer behaviors (e.g., loyalty, advocacy) and/or business results that exists in the true customer universe. Thus, any modeling analyses undertaken could be mis-specified.

For these reasons, asking the overall question before the attributes appears to be the best under either scenario: If there is no context effect, then overall-first makes sense because it is less subject to respondent fatigue. If there is a context effect, then the overall-first design creates the least-biased, most stable and useful measure of overall satisfaction.

The preceding discussion applies to new studies, with no need to match prior historical data. For an existing study with an overall-last structure already in place, any potential advantages in switching to an overall-first design could be outweighed by the need to track historical trends as accurately as possible.

For more information about this article, click here.

MaritzCX believes organizations should be able to see, sense and act on the experiences and desires of every customer, at every touch point, as it happens. We help organizations increase customer retention, conversion and lifetime value by ingraining customer experience intelligence and action systems into the DNA of business operations. For more information, visit www.maritzcx.com.

 

Top CX Survey Use Cases for Integrating Wootric and Intercom

In case you missed it, customers’ expectations have changed.

The way we communicate with them has changed, and Intercom users are leading the way. Customers and prospects like communicating via Intercom chat. It’s efficient, modern, and conversational.

Integrating a customer feedback program with Intercom takes customer experience to the next level. Having all your customer experience data gathered, viewed, and managed in Intercom sets you up to build high-quality relationships with your customers.

Easy, breezy, and code-free option: Surveys in Intercom chat & email

Wootric gives Intercom users two code-free ways to survey customers – in Intercom chat and via email. The survey responses then flow back into Intercom records to view for follow-up.

Wootric Surveys is an Intercom Messenger app, available now in the Intercom App Store, that lets you send surveys within the Intercom Messenger chat bubble. From your customers’ point of view, sending Wootric surveys through Intercom makes sense — that is where they are used to getting communication from you.

Alternatively, you can survey your customers via email. Download the free Wootric email survey template (you’ll find it in Wootric settings) and upload it into Intercom.

Whether you are surveying in Intercom chat or via email, you can create auto-messages based on Intercom rules and attributes, or send a survey out to individual customers manually.

Here are the top 5 use cases for the Wootric-Intercom integration to unify your customer feedback program.

Target a specific customer segment with an NPS survey campaign

To better understand the sentiment for each your customer personas, set up a campaign-style auto message with a Net Promoter Score survey in Intercom.

For example, you may choose to target all of your enterprise customers, or all of your self-service customers. Perhaps you want insight into customers in the EU, Asia, or South America. You could also choose to survey customers who have been with you for 6 months.

With Intercom and Wootric, you can send a survey can be based on any group of customers that you can define in Intercom.

Target customer surveys based on a product or service milestone

Gather feedback after product or service milestones. The feedback you gather at customer journey points can help you prioritize improvements that will increase customer retention. Here are two popular examples:

  • Deploy a Customer Effort Score (CES) survey after a product milestone is achieved

If you are trying to understand customer sentiment around installation processes, onboarding, or other product milestones, the Customer Effort Score is the survey for you. Measuring customer effort gives you insight into pain points or friction that customers may experience while using your product or service. Asking “how easy was it to __” will help you quantify ease and give you wide-ranging feedback. You may find that your processes (e.g. installation, getting started, etc.) are easy enough, but documentation is difficult to find. Customers may end up going to Customer Support because they are frustrated about finding answers and instructions on their own.

 As for when to send a CES survey, you may choose to send a survey via auto message for folks who have logged into your platform after completing onboarding. You could choose to send an email survey to users who have exported their data to another platform to see if the process is easy enough. Surveys can be triggered based on any event you are tracking in Intercom, giving you a plethora of options.

  • Send a Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) survey to ask about product features

Customer Success and Support aren’t the only teams that will benefit from surveys via Intercom.

This channel is a great way to survey customers about different product features as they use them. For example, you can choose to deploy a CSAT or “PSAT” survey to all users who have used a feature X number of times or 30 days after upgrading to a new feature set.

The feedback you get from asking the Customer Satisfaction question can be valuable to your product development team and product managers.

Make sure everyone is covered

  • Send a survey in a live conversation

“Oops, I didn’t mean to score you a 2!”  Sometimes a customer will make a mistake or get distracted and fail to click “submit” when they see your survey.

Now, you can manually insert a fresh survey into the conversation. This lets you fill in the gaps that automated campaign-style messages may leave.

  • Hear from more customers by sending an in-app survey to people who don’t respond to email surveys

If you’ve been surveying your customers via email, you may find that a good portion of them go unopened. Other email surveys may be opened and the surveys don’t get filled out because folks think “Oh, I’ll get to that after I finish up this other thing!”, then get distracted and forget about your survey.

Cover your bases and reach customers where they’re already working by sending these users another survey via Intercom messenger.

The set & forget option: Wootric in-app surveys

One challenge with Intercom auto-messages is that they are not recurring. If you want to survey your customers say, every 90 days, the best way is to install the Wootric code snippet on your web application (or use the SDK for you mobile app). Then you can easily configure your sampling requirements and survey cadence in your Wootric settings.  The best part is that survey responses collected this way will still flow into Intercom records for follow-up action.

See survey feedback & respond to customers in Intercom

Consolidating all of your customer experience data in one platform isn’t just efficient. It provides your customer-facing agents with vital context as they interact with users without having to shift from one platform to another.

For example, your Customer Success Managers will be able to see each company’s survey responses, including user comments.

Your Support and Success agents can manage the follow up with customers in the same platform that they view users’ survey responses. The Wootric integration can be configured to automatically open a conversation when a survey response is received. This can prompt team members to reach out to personally to thank the customer or follow up on any issues. Or, set up auto-messages to response to customers based on their score. For example, trigger an email that asks happy customers to write a review of your product. 

With Intercom, customers know where to expect communication from you and know exactly where to reach out for help. Using Wootric and Intercom together is a convenient way to close the loop with customers, letting them know you value their feedback.

Get started with the InMoment-Intercom integration today!

5 Ways to Break Down the Data Silos that Hurt Customer Experience

Do you have a data silo problem?

  • Do customers complain of having to explain everything about their business to sales, and then to customer success, and then again to customer support?
  • Is customer support hearing about the same issues, over and over again, that aren’t being addressed by product?

Those are just two of the most frequent symptoms of data silos. Here are some more, reported to us by our friends at Segment.

  • Inability to answer complex questions about your customer journey.
  • Inability to quantify the impact of a given campaign against down-funnel, often offline conversations (like Salesforce lead status updates).
  • Inability to affect targeting criteria in a given channel based on interactions that occurred in another (ie. you’re spamming users across channels when they’ve already converted or signaled their preferences in another.

What do all of these silo symptoms have in common? They all damage customer experience, and they all result from data not being shared between teams and departments.

Three main causes of data silos

Data silos are isolated islands where information sits, visible to just one or a few people. Usually, the cause of data silos isn’t some greedy information hog, unwilling to let anyone see his or her hoard of numbers. It’s nothing so Dickensian. Here are the main reasons they exist.

  1. Structural

Businesses that have been around through multiple owners, leaders and ideologies typically have incompatible systems in place from various eras and incarnations. Older software or apps that haven’t been updated or replaced probably don’t play well with others. Whereas newer data collection and analysis programs have built-in capacities to share information with other apps, older systems don’t. Or, they don’t do it automatically. If no one is tasked with disseminating the information, it doesn’t get shared.

  1. Social

Maybe teams aren’t rewarded for sharing, or required to share information. Or, maybe there is a data hoarding person or group who keep data to themselves to maintain a sense of power and control. But usually, it’s a case of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ resistance to change. Having a ‘silo mentality’ in your business makes it difficult or impossible to quickly spot opportunities and take advantage of them, because when information isn’t shared, you can’t make fast, informed, data-driven decisions.

  1. Vendor lock-in

Maybe it’s not you, it’s them. The software vendors. Yes, even software-as-a-service applications can effectively ‘trap’ businesses within their platforms by requiring heavy investments in special training, or they may lack native integrations or an open API. In either case, they make it difficult to switch information over to other apps.

Breaking down these data silos requires a lot of effort and commitment. Structural causes require an overhaul of all or most of your existing systems; social causes may take a company-wide initiative to improve company culture; and vendor lock-in-related causes are, by nature, tricky to remedy.

So before we get into how to break down data silos, let’s look at why it’s worth all of the time, effort, and investment.

What you stand to gain by breaking silos down

One of the biggest threats data silos pose to companies is blocking customer success. Customer success depends on everyone in the company being aligned behind the same data-informed vision of the target customer – their needs, wants, challenges and desired outcomes.

But that alignment depends entirely on sharing information across the entire organization, not just once, but continuously, to facilitate collaboration between sales, marketing, customer success and customer service (at minimum). When customer-facing departments run entirely separately from each other, it’s the customers who pay the price.

When customers run into trouble, they have to repeat themselves as they’re bounced around from agent to agent.

If a loyal customer was unhappy with the last order, s/he will feel pestered and aggravated when a clueless sales rep tries to upsell them.

Of course, it’s not only customers who suffer – nobody benefits from data silos! A 2016 brief from Forrester observed the high rates of “misaligned performance metrics, lack of clarity around lead scoring (and definitions)” and other misunderstandings between marketing and sales that leaves “sales ops in the middle to make sense of the chaos.”

Another Forrester statistic is “less than 1% of leads in B2B ever become customers,” which means businesses are wasting money on marketing that doesn’t work, salespeople are wasting time on leads that will never convert, and – when you have data silos, marketers might not even know what they’re doing wrong.

With some types of data, sharing is even more important because so many departments stand to benefit from having easy access to it. Voice-of-customer data, for example, is a must-have for marketing (for testimonials, ad/sales page/email copy, content ideas), sales (for upsells), and product (to optimize features).

The bottom line is: Breaking down data silos is an absolute requirement of creating the customer-centric culture customers want and companies need.

How to break those silos

“A customer-centric culture should be the North Star and guiding principle for tearing down the silos [between marketing, sales, and customer service]… Before joining Salesforce, I spent 12 years running global engineering and also serving as a [chief marketing officer]. Silo busting was how I spent most of my time. I realized that I had to try to align different areas of the business, and the only way to do that was to silo-bust.”

– Vala Afshar, chief digital strategist at Salesforce

First, diagnose what is causing your silo problem using the 5 Whys cause and effect analysis.

5 Whys ExerciseThe idea is to find the root cause of the surface problem. The surface problem, for example, might be that marketing isn’t qualifying leads before passing them on to sales. The reason for that might be that marketing isn’t sure what the success indicators are for leads who convert. The reason for that might be because that data is stopped up – it’s kept by sales.

We’re already at the third ‘why’ question and we’ve just gotten to the middle problem of the data silo.

The answers to ‘why’ #4 and ‘why’ #5 will reveal the core cause that’s creating the silo in the first place.

Why use the 5 Whys? Because you might find that a data silo isn’t the root of the problem, or that the reason for the silo isn’t what you think it is. There may, in fact, be an underlying issue that runs deeper than investing in a new data gathering and analysis program can fix.

Second, get management buy-in.

Once you’re armed with the problems the data silo creates, as well as a thorough understanding of the underlying issues contributing to those problems, take your findings to management. You’ll need total buy-in from the top to address those deeper issues and find a data-busting solution that works perfectly for your company.

To get that buy-in, you’ve got to present a strong case that freely shared information will help each individual department, and the entire organization, essentially offering them a unified vision. In addition to bringing up current problems free-flowing information can fix, also consider how it can aid your company’s long-term goals and department objectives.

Third, align behind your North Star (the customer)

It’s not going to be easy to change long-standing habits in your organization, so to do it successfully, you’ve got to have whole-company alignment behind the real purpose of your proposed changes: The customer.

Your customers will tell you what impact your changes are really having. But, you need a metric to track, so everyone can see that breaking down silos (and all the work and training that go into it) are worth the effort.

We call this a “North Star metric,” like Net Promoter Score (NPS). When you see NPS scores rise, proving that customers are indeed happier (so happy they’re willing to recommend you to a friend or colleague), it’s proof positive that what you’re doing makes a difference.

Fourth, find the right tools.

Better tools lead to better collaboration, and what you’ll want to look for are data gathering and analysis tools that integrate with your CRM software (which will also solve the vendor lock-in problem, if that’s the source of your silo).

This is going to be your “single source of truth” database. Salesforce is a perfect example.

It’s key to make sure that data is shared with various functional systems of record so everyone has what they need at their fingertips. At Wootric, for example, we sync customer/prospect data from our product, Intercom (for Success) and HubSpot (for Marketing) to Salesforce – and from the Wootric survey platform, we integrate with Slack, Intercom, Salesforce, and HubSpot.

For us, this means:

  • The way we put NPS into Intercom so that if a customer reaches out about a conversation, someone can see the entire history of that customer.
  • You could have a different conversation with a promoter than someone who ‘dinged you’ the last time – having that context shifts the conversation.

Segment Product Manager Chris Sperandio says customers come to his company for better alignment through data.

The key is the desire to align all of their departments around a shared customer context. The way they achieve this is ensuring each department’s tools are running on a common data set. This way, they can run more cohesive campaigns and they can operationalize their insights and predictions.

Fifth: Invest in cross-functional training – together.

Once you have diagnosed your core problems, obtained management buy-in, and choose a metric that measures progress, and have the right tools – it’s time to bring everyone together for training.

Not only will everyone need training on how to use the new tools, they’ll also need training on how they can best work together to create better customer experiences through sharing information. Silo-busting is a multi-team effort, but when teams have traditionally been kept separate and sovereign, it can be a challenge to build bridges and relationships.

Try hosting a meeting with everyone to establish a shared understanding of each team’s goals, challenges and pain points.

Then, have everyone get together to find areas where insights and abilities from one person can help another person with their challenges and goals.

Finally, have everyone fill out a “communication builder” questionnaire that asks:

  • Basic contact information: phone/email/Slack etc.
  • What is their job title/function?
  • When and how do they prefer being contacted (ie. by phone before noon, or via email – but not available on weekends for immediate response).

This step sets up co-workers for success by setting expectations and letting everyone receive requests and information in the way that works best for them.

Alternately, you might consider creating a cross-functional “tiger team” who ‘owns’ the progress of the North Star metric (like NPS) and has a C-suite sponsor who helps them get things done.

Collaborative training is a good start, but will need to be nurtured over time as the human tendency is to fall back into familiar behavior patterns. To help break those patterns, you might even consider physically moving people so employees from different teams work next to each other, building relationships.

Measure and improve customer experience at scale.

Get auto-tagging with InMoment customer feedback software. Sign up for a free trial.

How the Perception of Productivity Affects our Engagement at Work

Weekends in my household are often consumed by time well spent with my wife and two young children, who enjoy everything from hide & seek and board games with crazy rules, to baseball and bike riding.  While I love these activities and the family memories they create, I too enjoy weekend time spent alone on personal projects around the house.  I call these “garag-ects”—projects generally accomplished in the garage.

Over the years, the bikes and sports equipment, toys and old ping-pong table, tools and materials have taken over my work space, each time requiring me to prepare a space to get started. It’s an unmotivating and incredibly inefficient environment, but I know that until I dedicate the time to organize the space required to tackle many garagectsin a single weekend, I will continue to lack the motivation and resources to engage in even a single item on the growing list of ‘to-do’ items.  In years past, I found myself able to fill a weekend with a list of accomplishments and was highly productive in the garage.  When I could start and complete a garagectin one sitting, I found myself entirely engaged in the process and motivated by the accomplishments each completion would bring.

Perception of Productivity Drives Employee Engagement

In this way, I have something in common with the vast majority of employees who work in any role across all types of industries and organizations.  Perhaps not just the family aspect or the growing list of projects in the garage, but the continuous intrinsic need to be productive in order to feel truly engaged.  In fact, research suggests that employee happiness and engagement at work is driven by the perception of productivity – an employee’s sense of being able to effectively execute his or her duties and role for the organization in an effective and efficient manner.  Coupled with the ability for an employee to see his or her contribution, the feeling of productivity is powerful in establishing and maintaining high engagement levels.

The social and physical environment for an employee in the workplace may be just as important as an organized garage when it comes to enabling a higher sense of productivity.  As organizations invest in employees by regularly asking for feedback and insight in order to make effective changes and promote a culture for employee-generated insights, it can be valuable to include measures that connect productivity and the outcomes of the work done day in and day out.

Bridging Concepts of Productivity with Employee Surveys and CX Measures

Many organizations are beginning to find ways to include such measurement within regular employee engagement surveys, where for example, employees are presented with specific items connecting the concepts of productivity while also bridging data between employee surveys and customer experience measures.  These items may cover processes & procedures and incentives, to goal-setting and technology, and might include items such as;

  • Our organization always acts in the best interests of our customers.
  • Our organization eliminates processes and procedures that interfere with best serving my customers.
  • Staff in our organization are given incentives to provide the best possible service to our customers.
  • My co-workers consistently think about how to better serve our customers.
  • Our organization hasformal programs and processes for improving customer experience.
  • Our organization sets specific goals for achieving and improving customer experience.
  • Our organization effectively uses technologyto deliver a consistently positive customer experience.
  • Our organization commits the resources required to exceed the expectationsof customers.

employee engagement diagram

Such measures offered to employees serve as a great way to connect traditional siloes between HR and CX Professionals who independently measure the employee and customer experience respectively and provide a mechanism for employees to weigh in foundational concepts affecting their work and the outcomes for customers.

Asking the Right Employee, with the Right Measures, at the Right Time

Another growing strategy organizations are deploying includes the use of employee experience (EX) surveys to monitor the more standard aspects of the employee life cycle.  This process includes asking the right employees, the right measures, at the right time – while they are top of mind and while the employee is most invested in a particular experience.  By measuring the initial impressions of an organization during the recruitment and hiring stages, through onboarding and acclamation, to communication and recognition, and typically ending with exit experience, an organization can identify employee-driven ideas for improving the experience in each of these areas affecting nearly all current and future employees.  These surveys can be administered in a more intelligent, automated fashion by leveraging employee record files to distribute certain survey types based on tenure, employment events (such as promotion or training) and communication processes by the organization, including quarterly townhall meetings. By including even just a single item on an employee’s perception of productivity, the organization can better identify quick wins across processes in the employment life cycle to improve this concept and engagement.

Make Sharing Experiences Easy

One other emerging trend includes the use of open-ended prompts, either as part of the regular employee survey process or as part of an open listening strategy where employees can share a story/idea at any time through a dedicated portal or open exchange.  Just as we do as customers when we experience something very positive or negative, employees also want to share their stories.  One positive and inspiring method is to provide a mechanism for employees to identify any instances where colleagues, processes, or the work environment allowed them to be overly productive and/or provide an exceptional experience to a customer.  Every employee has days where, from their vantage point they accomplish an incredible feat or series of feats in one day.  Providing opportunities for employees to share these stories will generate ideas for how to foster such productivity while recognizing employees for their accomplishments.  Such stories can even be shared publicly in electronic employee boards and in recognition mechanism across the organization to further drive engagement.

Speaking personally, I can physically feel the difference in my engagement when I’m in an environment that promotes focus and productivity.  Whether provided to me by the leadership at my place of work, or self-created in my garage, my working conditions including the processes, tools, space and people should foster productivity and be intentional in design to allow for my best work.  When this occurs, I’m most likely to remain engaged in my efforts and connected to the purpose of my work.  In my case, this means a weekend engaged in making my garage a more productive environment.

9 Empathy Exercises that Help Product Teams Improve CX

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. For Product Managers looking to improve customer experience (CX), that definition translates to doing more than understanding the user’s pain points, but also looking at the emotional landscape of what it’s like to use the product – when it is working, and when it isn’t working.

Empathetic Product Managers ask themselves:

  • How does using the product make the customer feel?
  • How does the customer want to feel when using your product? What would be the best possible emotional outcome for them?
  • How do I ensure the product developers understand and take the customers’ needs into consideration in their process?

The answers to those questions affect every facet of business, from acquisition to retention. It’s how, through CX, you can generate rapid growth through word-of-mouth recommendations, and sustain your success with customers who never want to leave.

Tying Empathy into CX

Empathy is a soft skill, and while those are typically difficult to measure, the effects of empathetic product development can be seen in every CX metric: Customer satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Sinead Cochrane, Senior Product Researcher at Intercom, wrote “For product teams, empathy building activities such as observing research or doing customer support is often not considered ‘real work’. However, product teams that consistently keep customer needs in mind are able to maintain and evolve their products in ways that won’t negatively impact the user experience.”

For her, empathy for product departments means “When a customer tells you something is broken, you are able to imagine the impact it’s having on the job they’re trying to get done,” and, “you realize the emotional impact the problem is having on that person.”

But I think we can go further than just recognizing the emotional impact of problems. That’s scratching the surface of what having empathy for customers can mean for producing superior customer experience.

Because empathy shouldn’t be reduced to realizing customers feel bad when a product isn’t working for them. A whole new world opens up when you also consider how you can design your product, updates, and expansions to enhance positive emotions as well.

Here are the questions that lie at the heart of empathetic product management:

  • How can you get more emotionally in sync with your customers?
  • Which are the most important negative emotional outcomes to manage?
  • Which emotions should you seek to heighten (and how?)

To answer these questions, try these empathy building exercises.

Empathy Building Exercises for Product Managers and their Teams

  1. Listen actively to discover underlying needs and emotional motivations

Often relegated to customer service and customer success departments, ‘active listening’ to find out why your customers use your product and what they really want to achieve is very important. You can’t get the depth and honesty of answers by just sending out a survey – this works much better if you do phone, Zoom or in-person interviews. In fact, Roman Pichler recommends product managers meet real users on a regular basis. You may find that your assumptions of why customers use your product aren’t accurate, or don’t tell nearly enough of the story.

“At first, our assumption was that they wanted to make more money. That often was true, but frequently we heard something different. Many simply wanted to maintain the business but run it more efficiently so they could have more free time (we heard about golfing on Fridays more than once). Others wanted to build a sustainable business they could pass on to their son or daughter.” – Jim Semick, Founder & Chief Strategist at ProductPlan

To get down to customers’ real motivations, ask open-ended questions beginning with “why” and “how.” Then make sure to record their answers in their own words (you can hand those assets to your copywriters for later use).

  1. Use your own product

Empathy is often described as ‘putting yourself in someone else’s shoes’ – and there’s no better way to do this for a product manager than to actually use the product, just like any user would. You’ll empathize with users’ frustrations as you experience your own product’s shortcomings and hopefully find moments where it’s possible to create more delight.

But always keep in mind – you are not the average user. You’ll still need to listen to your users to get a complete picture of how they feel, and what problems they perceive as being severely aggravating.

  1. Share verbatim comments

Someone, somewhere, is tracking customer experience metrics, sending out surveys, and collecting the answers. That someone might even be you. When reading users’ written responses, don’t just look for problems to solve and ignore the positive comments. Read them for emotion and see what conclusions you can draw about what people are feeling, and want to feel.

Pick a few relevant verbatim comments to bring to the rest of the product team. Reading these comments often helps engineers and designers feel the same joy or frustration as their users. This new emotional understanding will help you evangelize CX as a priority with everyone.

  1. Mine your qualitative data and quantify customer sentiment

Those open-ended response answers are a goldmine for user research that can alert you to problems – and give you hints into the customer’s emotional state of mind. However, once you are getting more than a hundred comments a month, seeing the forest for the trees can be a difficult exercise. Qualitative feedback is notoriously tough to quantify, but it is now possible and easy to quantify sentiment with the help of machine learning.

AI-powered platforms, like InMoment CXInsight™, automatically sort your customer comments into themes while simultaneously assigning positive or negative sentiment. This provides you with a big picture understanding of how customers feel about your product and why. Categories of feedback vary by business sector and business model–payment processes & delivery for e-commerce, perhaps, while UX and usability may surface for SaaS products. Quantifying the sentiment of what your customers are talking about can help you track emotional trends over time. Presenting this kind of data alongside verbatim comments connects customer emotion with real business consequence.  

Feedback categorized by theme with sentiment breakdown
Example of auto-categorized NPS comments with sentiment assigned in a dashboard. Source: Wootric

  1. Set empathy KPIs

What gets measured gets done, and adding empathy into your product development work is no different. The KPIs for empathy may look a little different than your typical performance indicators, but the good news is: They’re not difficult to get. You’ll find key performance indicators like NPS, CES and CSAT are a good start, and comments in the open-ended questions can give you insight into the metric. Start identifying what kinds of ratings and qualitative answers correlate to genuinely happy customers – and frustrated customers likely to churn.

  1. Chart out an empathy map

You’ve done your user journey, but even though it’s part of the buyer persona building process, you may not have done an empathy map.

Empathy Map Source

  • What your user sees – on competitors’ websites, common visuals in their industries, maybe what they enjoy watching or reading
  • What your user says – how they measure success, what they say they want, what they say about your product
  • What your user hears – what their influencers are saying, not just about your product, but about their jobs and what constitutes success, what they enjoy, what they don’t like about their experiences with your competitors, etc.
  • What your users think and feel – worries, aspirations, what they really want, what really annoys them

Notice how the empathy map includes business/industry-specific observations, but also branches out into the user’s personal life and larger environment. People are not their jobs – or even their ‘jobs to be done.’ For true empathy, you have to look at the whole person.

This is a great activity to get other teams involved in – consider hosting a meeting with Customer Success, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service for a wider scope of insights.

Activities involving multiple teams help to build a shared understanding of your customers’ experiences that can strengthen the whole company.

  1. Add happy moments to your Customer Journey Map

You’ve probably mapped out your customer/user journey, but you probably didn’t include this: Happy moments. See if you can take your old customer journey map and mark the points where positive, fun, delightful things happen. Can’t think of any? Then you have some serious CX work to do!

And of course, also note points where you’ve observed friction, difficulties, and problems, and address those in the order of biggest impact + easiest to implement.

  1. Work in Customer Support for an afternoon

Whether that means answering the live chat questions, picking up the phone, or monitoring your product’s customer Slack channel, try out being the Customer Support agent for an afternoon to and put yourself on the front lines! There’s no better way to find problems than to let customers tell you exactly – and in great detail – what they are. And they’ll likely throw in how frustrated it makes them feel too.

  1. Build a prototype to test your emotional hypotheses

By now, you probably have a few ideas on how you can improve the customer experience, and it might be time to test those theories. Create a prototype for a select group of qualified users to try (and react to). And, if possible, have them test the prototype in a testing facility that allows you to observe their reactions as they use your product.

If there is a Golden Rule for empathy, it’s a simple one: Forget your assumptions and be genuinely interested and curious about what people are feeling (not just what they’re doing) while using your product.

To quote Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be the customer experience champion at your company. Sign up today for free Net Promoter Score, CSAT or Customer Effort Score feedback with InMoment.

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